Thrylos rolling with Everest schedule ahead
AGONAsport’s Olympiacos contributor, Theo Bouras, talk about the Erythrolefki’s good form of late and the tough schedule that lies ahead.
“Olympiacos, right now, is playing the best brand of football in Greece.” It’s hard to argue with Asteras Tripolis manager, Giorgios Paraschos’ comments after Sunday’s Super League game between the Erythrolefki and the team from Arcadia. It took Pedro Martins’ team some time, but they have gelled and become a force to be reckoned with. In Tripoli on Sunday, Olympiacos went straight for the jugular from the start of the game and had a relatively easy 0-2 victory over Asteras.
Olympiacos are aware that they are eight points behind PAOK and have no room for error. What makes the team’s goals even loftier is that between January 19th and February 26th, the team will have played an astonishing 12 games. This is the unfortunate part of being the only Greek team that is still competing in a UEFA competition.
Hello Reinforcements; Goodbye Egos
In order to have the depth to get through this monster schedule, Pedro Martins will have some new weapons to his disposal. Argentine striker Franco Soldano, attacking winger Giorgos Masouras, Portuguese winger Gil Dias, and goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin will be relied upon heavily down the stretch. All four are expected to see playing time.
Miguel Angel Guerrero and Ahmed Hassan have not convinced Martins this season so Soldano is bound to see significant playing time in the striker’s position. Dias, who was acquired via loan from Monaco, and Masouras will give some much needed rest to Daniel Podence and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos. Podence has played more minutes than anybody else this season for the Reds, while Christodoulopoulos has battled some injuries but has been key when on the pitch.
The acquisition of Lodygin is an interesting one. It all started when Andreas Gianniotis apparently showed some displeasure with his lack of playing time and his refusal to negotiate a new contract with Olympiacos. Director of Communications, Konstantinos Karapappas, called out Gianniotis’ commitment on social media and the rest is history. Gianniotis will most certainly be leaving this summer and there is no room for distractions right now in the club house.
Gianniotis was given the chance to be the team’s starter this year but ultimately faltered. His showings against PAOK, AEK, and OFI were poor and he ultimately lost his starting spot to a much steadier Jose Sa. Sa came in the summer after backing up Iker Casillas last year in Porto. You have to believe that he did not come here to be Gianniotis’ backup and it was only a matter of time before he become the go-to man for Pedro Martins.
Showing Heart Against All Odds
It’s certainly not something that the Erythrolefki are saying out loud, but the Greek League is all but done this year. Even if PAOK do manage to drop some points to AEK this coming Sunday, Olympiacos will need to go to Toumba and win in a hostile environment. Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe the Reds are a level ahead of PAOK but we have seen some off-the-field factors play a huge role this year in the Greek League (see Vierinha’s best handball impersonation in Lamia or Mantalos’ basketball dribble in Nea Smyrni last Saturday).
Pedro Martins has been a miracle worker. He weathered the early storms that had him almost out of Piraeus and has built a true “team.” Olympiacos is playing a level of soccer that we haven’t seen since the 2015/16 season. There is cohesion, pace, and a real polished look to their game. Odds are this team will not win the League this year, and it will hurt. What would hurt even more is if Marinakis does not put his faith in Martins and this squad. Barring any significant departures this summer, this team needs two or three signings and then PAOK and the rest of the league will not be able to keep up with the Legend in the 2019/2020 season.